LOS ANGELES — Workers at UPS are preparing to conduct one of the largest strikes in American history if the Teamsters Union and the company do not agree to new employment terms by the time the current contract expires on July 31.

What You Need To Know

  • UPS workers are preparing to strike if a new contract is not agreed upon
  • The current contract ends July 31
  • Teamsters are asking for better pay, the elimination of a two-tiered wage system for full-time and part-time employees
  • A 10-day UPS strike could cost the U.S. economy $7 billion

Jared Hamil has been a package driver with UPS for over a decade. 

"I knew it was a good job, good benefits," Hamil said. "I also knew it was union, and that's the most important part: we're Teamsters."

Jared is now a shop steward for Teamsters Local 396 in Los Angeles and is leveraging his workplace's union power by organizing practice strikes to show worker solidarity and prepare for any real strike in the future. 

The last time UPS workers striked was in 1997, but recent disagreements between the union and UPS have brought workers back to the brink. While UPS made more than $100 billion in revenue last year, many workers say they are being unjustly compensated for the hard work that enabled the company to reach those numbers. That's why Teamsters are negotiating for what they say is better pay, the elimination of a two-tiered wage system for full-time and part-time employees, and better workplace safety.

UPS has already agreed to some provisions, like installing air conditioning in the company's new fleet of delivery vehicles. Workers say this development is crucial as many drivers brave extreme and dangerous heat on the job. In July of 2022, UPS driver Esteban Chavez Jr. collapsed and died on the job in Pasadena from what his family claimed was a heat-related incident. 

Though both parties have come together on some conditions, negotiations recently stalled with both parties accusing the other of leaving the bargaining table.

"What we're asking for is the company to come to the table with something realistic," Hamil said. "And so far, thats not what it's looking like. If we don't have a contract August 1st, we're walking out."

After a weeks-long pause in bargaining, both sides agreed to resume negotiations this week, just days before the contract expiration date.

UPS declined Spectrum's request for an interview, but provided a statement that read: 

"We are pleased to be back at the negotiating table next week to resolve the few remaining open issues. We are prepared to increase our industry-leading pay and benefits, but need to work quickly to finalize a fair deal that provides certainty for our customers, our employees and businesses across the country."

If both sides do not come to an agreement in the coming days, 340,000 UPS employees are poised to walk off the job. 

According to Victor Narro, the project director for the UCLA Labor Center, the Teamsters' strike would be one of the biggest in American history. 

“Today UPS owns around 25% of the carrier service in this country," Narro said. "If there’s a strike, that will have a tremendous impact on the economy. UPS company doesn’t want to see that happen, Teamsters definitely don’t want to see that happen, and my hope is that they can figure out in the next few weeks how to come to an agreement.”

Victor Narro also says the potential UPS strike fits into a larger trend of worker organizing that is manifesting across many industries. In Los Angeles, actors, writers, and hotel workers are all currently striking during intense summer heat, leading some to dub the current period of labor organizing "hot labor summer."

But if UPS workers decide to strike, it will be by far the costliest of all. According to the Anderson Economic Group, a 10-day UPS strike could cost the U.S. economy $7 billion

As the clock ticks down to that potential economic pain, Teamsters like Jared Hamil show no sign of letting up on the requests they say are justified. 

"What we’ve seen a lot of profit, revenue made by this company off our backs," Hamil said. "We are here demanding something strong and something that we deserve.”

Both the Teamsters and UPS want to get back to work, but until they agree to new terms, one of the largest strikes in the country's history looms closer by the day.